Sexual Health & Violence Prevention
These services emerged from DePaul students, staff, and faculty coming together to address issues of sexual violence on campus. Student Affairs started the Stop Sexual Violence Taskforce to address the programmatic and policy aspects of sexual assault. Staff members from Residential Education and the Ray Meyer Fitness Center applied for and received a Vincentian Endowment grant to start the Rape Aggression Defense program. And, a student group called R.I.S.E. (Resources, Information, Services, Empowerment) created a resource website, held workshops for student groups and classes, and met with administrators to encourage the University to create a position to head up the responsibilities they had taken on themselves.
In May 2007, R.I.S.E. students held a demonstration to voice their concern about lack of institutional response or resources for sexual violence on campus. The Stop Sexual Violence Taskforce listened to these concerns and moved quickly to create a part-time Office of Sexual Violence Support Services as part of the Dean of Students office. It is a testament to the determination and commitment of DePaul students, staff, and faculty that this Office was able to come into existence in January 2008.
In February 2012, a full-time Office of Sexual Health & Violence Prevention was created to replace the part-time Office of Sexual Violence Support Services in recognition of the need and importance of addressing sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and sexual health in a bigger way at DePaul University.
- Sexual Health Education
DePaul's sexual health programs and services provide a Catholic philosophy on human sexuality and sexual health. The Catholic philosophy views human sexuality as a gift which needs to be developed and cared for. The Catholic Church also believes in the healthy and informed formation of one's conscience. The university recognizes that not all of DePaul's students are Catholic, and that many students are making decisions about their sexual relationships and sexual behaviors. The intent is to help students become better educated about issues of their sexuality, empowering them to make moral, healthy and respectful choices concerning sexual behavior.
- Healthy Relationships and Sexual Health Education Resources
Healthy relationships resource:
Safer sex resources: bedsider.org/methods
STI testing sites:
DePaul University (offers free HIV testing every quarter at the Lincoln Park & Loop Campuses) For scheduled dates and additional information please contact email@example.com
Lakeview STI Specialty Clinic (offers free STI testing)
2861 N Clark Street, 2nd Fl.
Chicago, IL 60657
Howard Brown Health Center (offers low-cost STI testing)
4025 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60613
Chicago Women's Health Center (offers low-cost STI testing)
3435 N Sheffield Avenue, Suite 206A
Chicago, IL 60657
STD Test Express (offers low-cost STI testing)
- Promoting healthy relationships, safer sex, and respectful sexual behavior
Students today face significant challenges in their decision making around sex and sexual relationships. The Office provides resources, education, and training programs to promote healthy relationships and safer sex, and to empower students to make respectful choices related to sex. DePaul's Catholic and Vincentian mission brings a values-based, non-judgmental conversation to discussions on these issues, ensuring a holistic approach that includes providing medically accurate information on sexual health to reduce any potential harm.
- Violence Prevention
This area also provides sexual violence prevention programs and services that focus on education, advocacy and support. First and foremost, serving as an advocate and support for students affected by sexual violence, domestic violence, sexual harassment and/or stalking, working with internal and external partners. Additionally, offering programs and workshops to educate about sexual and relationship violence and its impact in the community. Programs and trainings include information on the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses, long- and short-term effects of sexual violence trauma, as well as how to respond to a disclosure of sexual assault. Finally, in collaboration with Campus Recreation and Public Safety, self-defense programs are offered throughout the academic year in the Ray Meyer Fitness Center. Collaborative Programming
Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) Self-Defense Training (all academic year)
- Preventing and addressing sexual and intimate partner violence
The Office serves as an advocate and support for students directly impacted by sexual assault (also called rape), intimate partner violence (also called domestic or relationship violence), sexual harassment, and stalking. Students are welcome to drop-in, call, or email the Office to seek support, a safe space, and access to on- and off-campus resources. The Office provides all services in accordance with the wishes of the survivor. DePaul University's policy on Sexual Offense can be found here.
In addition, the Office offers educational trainings, workshops, and events for the DePaul community to build awareness, understanding, and sensitivity around sexual and intimate partner violence. Programs offer information and education on the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses, the importance of clear consent, safety tips, the different forms of intimate partner violence and warning signs, resources available on- and off-campus for survivors, how to respond to and support a survivor, etc. By reaching out to the DePaul community and working in collaboration with various student groups, campus departments, and community partners, the Office aims to bring the issue of sexual and intimate partner violence to the forefront of conversation. We believe that the more people become aware and sensitized about such violence, the more effectively it can be addressed.
Educational trainings, workshops, and events are held for the DePaul community to build awareness, understanding, and sensitivity around sexual and intimate partner violence, healthy relationships, safer sex, and respectful sexual behavior.
Programs cover the following topics: the different forms of sexual and intimate partner violence; prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses; long- and short-term effects of sexual violence trauma; safety tips; resources available on- and off-campus for survivors; how to respond to and support a survivor; safer sex resources; healthy relationships; STIs/HIV testing; the importance of clear consent; sexual orientation; gender identity; etc.
Collaborations with numerous campus departments, student organizations, and community partners are key to offering the wide-range of programs to residence halls, STARS Mentors, freshman and transfer students, and the DePaul community during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April). In addition, a year-round collaboration is in place with Campus Recreation to offer self-defense classes at the Ray Meyer Fitness Center.
- Understanding Sexual Assault
Definitions of Sexual Assault continue to change and evolve over time. Many terms may appear to be interchangeable, but this is not always the case; to learn the difference between terms as we use them, please take a look at our definitions. DePaul recognizes that there are many ways to perpetrate sexual violence. Regardless of how or why sexual violence occurs, there is nothing a person can do to deserve or provoke an assault. Many people have an idea of what a victim looks like, what a perpetrator looks like, and what a sexual assault looks like. We want to broaden these understandings to include physical force, intimidation, manipulation, coercion, as well as the voluntary or involuntary use of drugs and/or alcohol that renders the survivor unable to give consent.
Below you will find a list of definitions we have established to help sort through the terminology around sexual assault. Often terms are used interchangeably, sometimes creating confusion around the issue. If you have any questions about the language, please feel free to e-mail Rima Shah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sexual Violence: is an umbrella term to encompass sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, stalking, and sexual harassment involving strangers, acquaintances, and intimate partners.
Sexual Assault: is defined as an act of sexual penetration with the use or threat of force or an act of sexual penetration when the accused knew that the victim was "unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent." In the state of Illinois, if an individual is "incapacitated from drugs or alcohol" (i.e. intoxicated) they cannot give consent to having sex. Sexual penetration is defined as any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person by an object, the sex organ, mouth, or anus of another person, or any intrusion, however slight, or any part of the body of one person or of any animal or object into the sex organ or anus of another person. Evidence of emission of semen is not required to prove sexual penetration. The survivor is not required to prove that force was used, only that the threat of force was present
Sexual Abuse: constitutes unwanted sexual contact up to penetration
Rape: the terms Sexual Assault and Rape mean the same thing and the terms are often used interchangeably.
Acquaintance Rape/Date Rape: Acquaintance Rape and Date Rape both refer to sexual assault by a person known to the survivor. While most people think rape is committed by a stranger, acquaintance rape is actually much more common. On college campuses, 84-97% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the survivor.
Victim: often used interchangeably with the term Survivor. This term is used to describe a person who has experienced any degree of sexual violence. Thought to be less empowering than the term Survivor, many people choose to not identify with this terminology; others will argue that having been victimized is not a reflection of the person who is a victim and the term is merely factual rather than disempowering.
Survivor: often used interchangeably with the term Victim. It refers to anyone who has experienced sexual violence and does not preclude individuals who are still struggling with their experience. The term is used to bring attention to the fact that though a person who has experienced sexual violence has been a victim, they are also active participants in the experience of survival.
Coercion: Coercion occurs when sexual activity occurs without proper consent. Sexual coercion is the use of manipulation or threat to force someone to have sex.
- Adapted from: www.sexualviolence.uchicago.edu/assault.shtml
- ICASA's manual, By the Numbers: Sexual Violence Statistics, published in 2006.
- Adapted from survivors and victim advocates
- Adapted from The Illinois Criminal Sexual Assault Act, 720 ILCS 5/12-17
- Adapted from: www.sexualviolence.uchicago.edu/consent-coercion.shtml
- Sexual Assualt/Rape Myths & Facts
Myth: Sexual Assault is caused by lust or uncontrollable sexual urges and the need for sexual gratification.
Fact: Sexual Assault is an act of physical violence and domination that is not motivated by sexual gratification. ble by the author.
Myth: Once a man gets sexually aroused, he can't just stop.
Fact: Men do not physically need to have sex after becoming sexually excited. Moreover, they are still able to control themselves after becoming aroused.
Myth: Women often lie about sexual assault or falsely accuse someone of sexual assault.Women often lie about sexual assault or falsely accuse someone of sexual assault.
Fact: Studies indicate that false reports make up 2% or less of the reported cases of sexual assault. This figure is approximately the same for other types of crimes. And, over 54% of rapes are never reported to the police.1 Rapes by someone the victim knows are the least likely to be reported.
Myth: Women provoke sexual assault by their appearance. Sexual attractiveness is a primary reason why a rapist selects a victim.
Fact: Rapists do not select their victims by their appearance. They select victims who are vulnerable and accessible. Victims of sexual assault range in age from infants to the elderly. Sexual attractiveness is not an issue.
Myth: Sexual assaults are committed by strangers at night in dark alleys.
Fact: It is far more common for a woman to be raped by someone she knows than by a stranger. And, it happens at any time of the day or night.
Myth: Sexual assault is a topic that only concerns women, and men do not have to be concerned about sexual assault.
Fact: Men, both straight and gay, suffer 6-11% of the sexual assaults reported in the United States.2 In addition; men have girlfriends, wives, friends, sisters, mothers, and daughters who may someday need assistance in coping with sexual assault. Sexual assault is a concern for everyone.
Myth: If a woman really did not want to be sexually assaulted, she could prevent it.
Fact: Even if the rapist is not carrying a weapon, the element of surprise, shock, fear, the threat of harm, or being incapacitated by drugs or alcohol can overpower a survivor.
- U.S. Department of Justice. National Crime Victimization Survey: 2006-2010.
- U.S. Department of Justice. National Crime Victimization Survey: 2002.
- Clear Consent & "THE GREY AREA"
To be clear: There is no "grey area." If you are not sure how to think about what happened, keep in mind that sex should feel good, mutual, intimate. When it doesn't, people sometimes don't know how to define it. If you feel bad, taken advantage of, or abused, you should take these feelings seriously even if you don't know what label to put on the experience. It is important to note that 70% of sexual assaults are committed by someone you know – friends, intimate partners, relatives, or acquaintances.
Confusion is a common response to an unexpected event. You did not intend or expect the situation to end with you feeling uncomfortable, bad, or taken advantage of. It may take some time to process the unexpected, and possibly violent, turn of events. Accept your confusion as natural.
Many people minimize the significance of an event and minimize the strength of their emotional response when something bad happens to them. In a way this can be an adaptive strategy, but it also can make it more difficult to deal with what happened. Be careful not to dismiss your feelings of discomfort too quickly.
You may also be concerned that your decisions and actions contributed to the bad outcome and worry that it's your fault. You are right in taking responsibility for your own decisions and actions, but you are not responsible for the actions of the other person, nor are you in any way "deserving" of what happened to you.
There is often confusion or blurriness around whether consent was given or not prior to sexual activity. Here is some information about consent that might be of help to you:
- A person cannot give consent (no matter what s/he might verbalize) if they are intoxicated or unconscious as a result of alcohol or drugs. In Illinois having sex with a person in that state can be legally considered sexual assault/rape.
- The absence of "no" should never be interpreted as "yes"
- A person's lack of inhibition or inability to give consent should never be taken to mean consent
If in your gut you feel that something "bad" or "wrong" happened and that you feel uncomfortable, hurt, angry, etc. then you need to take this gut awareness seriously. It is a fallacy that people over report sexual assault. In fact it is one of the most under reported crimes in the world. Seek out someone who can help you process your thoughts and feelings so you can fully deal with what happened. A counselor, clergy member, health professional, family member, trusted friend, or a trusted campus resource may help you in this process.
- Safety Tips
- Trust your instincts. If you don't feel safe or comfortable in any situation, go with your gut.
- Don't let your guard down. College campuses can give you a false sense of security. Don't assume people you've just met will take care of you; remember that they are basically strangers.
- Never accept drinks from people you don't know or trust and never leave your drink by itself– if you've left your drink alone, just get a new one. And, always watch your drink being prepared.
- Don't go off alone at parties. Arrive with your friends, check in with each other throughout the night, and leave together. Make a secret signal with your friends for when they should intervene if you're in an uncomfortable situation.
- Try not to go out alone at night. Try to always walk with someone you trust. If you'll be walking home alone, call campus security to walk with you. And if possible, take heavily trafficked well lit routes.
- Try to avoid taking a taxi alone late in the night. If you do, never get in the front seat and always make a note of the taxi number.
- Be safe online. Make sure you don't share personal information online, such as your phone number, address, or your current location on your social networking pages or status posts; it can endanger your safety. Be cautious about meeting someone you got to know online, and always meet in a public place.
- If your friend seems too drunk or is acting abnormally, get him or her to a safe place immediately. If you think that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911. Make sure to tell the doctors about your suspicions, so that they know what to test for.
You have the right to decide who can touch you in a sexual way.
While that may seem obvious, situations can arise that make that seem less clear. You have the right to say "no" to anything that makes you uncomfortable no matter who does it or in what situation it takes place. A violation of that is not your fault. A sexual assault, whether by a stranger or an acquaintance, can be very frightening and disorienting. It happens to all people regardless of sexual orientation or sexual identification.
Survivors of sexual assault are often confused about what they should do next, and many question whether what happened was really rape at all, especially if the assailant was someone they knew or with whom they've had a relationship. Survivors of sexual assault are also often frightened to call or tell someone else because they worry that they will not be believed or because they are ashamed or feel responsible. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped it is important to remember that it is not your fault and that you have the right to receive assistance from people who will believe you and help you in your recovery.
People close to survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence often feel that they need to be strong and take care of their friend or loved one. It is normal to want to help and that support is crucial to the survivor, but it is important to remember to take care of yourself as well. You may have to cope with your own feelings of violation, vulnerability, and helplessness, as well as with the issue of how to treat the survivor in a helpful way. You may feel sad, helpless, frightened, angry, or confused; your responses, which may be very strong, are normal and legitimate. You may feel that you were at fault for the assault, and dwell on a long list of "If only I had..." Sexual violence is only the fault of the perpetrator.
Campus and city resources are available for supporters to have their own place to turn for support and conversation so that they may remain a positive influence for their friend, partner, or family member. You may call the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline at 888-293-2080, 24 hours a day to ask questions, and get referrals. The Office of Sexual Health & Violence Prevention and the Dean of Students Office are also available to answer these questions and address concerns.
If someone has disclosed to you their experience of sexual violence, the most important thing to remember is to believe them. Hearing phrases like "I believe you," or "You did not deserve this," or "It was not your fault," can be invaluable to someone who is questioning why this has happened to them. Additionally, it is important to remember the following:
- Listen to what the person is saying. Believe them when they say that they have experienced something awful.
- Express sincere empathy. Expressing empathy can be a powerful validation of a survivor's experience.
- Provide referrals to on- and off-campus support services.
- Validate feelings. It's not uncommon for people to feel angry when something like this happens.
- Don't make assumptions about the gender of the people involved. Sexual assault occurs among all genders and sexual orientations.
- Don't tell the person what to do. It's important to empower survivors to make decisions for themselves and to have those decisions respected.
- Don't tell the person how to feel. Survivors may feel numb or experience shame, anger, depression, and/or many other feelings.
- Remember, everyone reacts differently to trauma.
- Educate yourself about the myths of rape. Remember-rape is never the fault of the survivor, but the fault of the rapist. While this may seem simple and obvious, much of the misinformation that exists points to the victim as being responsible for the rape. To truly be supportive, one must believe the survivor while disbelieving and challenging the myths that surround rape.
- Relax. Try not to worry much about "saying the right thing." Being available to listen is far more important. Let the survivor know that you care.
- Your friend may or may not also be experiencing Rape Trauma Syndrome. The symptoms of Rape Trauma Syndrome can last long after the assault. More information on Rape Trauma Syndrome can be found at the website of Rape Victim Advocates.
- Eleven Things NOT to Say to Survivors of Sexual Assault (and what to say instead)
"Only crazy people need therapy"
Like many of the statements on this page, this is JUST PLAIN WRONG. Some experiences are traumatic for virtually anyone, regardless of how "normal" the person is. Often psychotherapy and rape crisis counseling can be very helpful for survivors with mild, moderate, or severe problems due to sexual assault.
"I'll kill the guy who did this to you"
Anger is an understandable reaction on your part, but frequently harmful for a survivor because s/he has just faced one person whose anger was out of control. They will then have the burden of calming you down so there will not be any more violence.
"It's better not to talk about it"
Instead, tell your friend that you are willing to listen when he or she is ready to talk. Many sexual assault survivors find that talking about stressful events speeds up recovery if the survivor is allowed to talk at his or her own pace. If you do not feel you can be a supportive listener, offer to help direct the survivor to another friend or counselor.
"Why are you afraid of me? I didn't do it."
Rape and incest often affect the interactions of the survivor with other people and cause confusion about and fear toward sex and intimacy. For instance, a woman who was sexually assaulted by a man may fear men. Survivors often need to exert and feel more in control of a relationship than they might have before an assault.
"It's my fault" or "It's not my fault"
Sexual assault is ONLY THE PERPETRATOR'S FAULT. It is not the fault of the survivor. It is not the fault of the survivor's family and friends. Statements like "It's not my fault" may suggest to the survivor that the assault is his/her fault. If you want to talk about fault at all, tell the survivor, "It's not your fault."
"If you don't go to the police, they could do this again!"
Regardless of whether the perpetrator continues to sexually assault people, it has nothing to do with the survivor or their response. The fault of each sexual assault is always with the person committing the assault, not those who have been unable to stop them.
"Going to the police (or testifying in court) will just make things worse."
Different people make different choices about going to the police and pressing charges. Some studies show that reporting to the police, though painful, sometimes helps with recovery from sexual assault. These actions also help get rapists off the street and emphasize that such violence will not be condoned.
"Why can't you just forget about it?"
The reminders of a sexual assault are constant and everywhere: some examples are sex, interactions with men (or women), street harassment, and any position of vulnerability. In the face of this, forgetting may be impossible.
"When you fall off a horse, you have to jump right back on"
This DOES NOT apply to resuming sex after sexual assault. Let the survivor decide when s/he is ready to have sex or to do other things of which s/he is afraid as a result of the assault. Be aware of subtle pressures to have sex that you may impose on her/him. It may help to seek couple's counseling.
"What's the big deal?"
SEXUAL ASSAULT IS A BIG DEAL for many reasons. An assault can destroy a person's belief that the world is a safe place, that s/he knows who to trust, that s/he has control over her/his own body and sexual activity. Rape is a life-threatening act. Rape is NOT just sex.
"Why didn't you fight?"
There are numerous natural responses to being attacked including freezing, submitting, and fighting. Your friend has survived; don't demand more of her/him than that.
"Nothing I can say (or do) will help."
Yes it can! Tell your friend you are ready to listen whenever s/he wants to talk about it and express her/his feelings. If she can't talk about it with you, help her/him find someone else with whom s/he can talk about it. Listen and do not criticize, judge, or condemn. Patience and love can help.
If your child discloses to you that they have been sexually assaulted, you may have many different reactions. It is important to try and keep your emotional reactions limited until you discuss further the role your child is looking for you to fill. Because Sexual Assault is so disempowering, though it may be instinct to take over and start making decisions, we urge you to really listen to your child about what they want to see happen and follow their lead.
Discussing Sexual Assault can be very difficult in any situation, but especially when telling a parent. Parents may be seen as, or see themselves as, protectors. Telling someone who you know is deeply concerned about your safety and well-being that you have experienced a sexual assault can be very daunting. The reaction you have can make a big difference to a survivor's recovery. For information on how to talk to and support a survivor, please refer to our section for Supporters.
Additional questions or concerns can be addressed by the Office of Sexual Health & Violence Prevention or the Dean of Students Office.
Campus and Community resources are available to both survivors and supporters. Resources are available for counseling, medical and legal services, and academic support. A student may choose to use outside counseling if they have used all of their available sessions with DePaul's University Counseling Services or if they feel more comfortable discussing their experience with someone not related to the University.
We are aware that many problems may arise after experiencing a sexual assault. If you feel you or a friend may be struggling from an addiction or developing physical or mental health problems due to a sexual assault, it is a good idea to treat both the root cause and the resulting problem.
DePaul University Resources
Rima Shah, Sexual Health & Violence Prevention
Office of Health Promotion & Wellness
2250 N. Sheffield Ave, Suite 307
Chicago, IL 60614
Dean of Students Office
2250 N. Sheffield Ave, Suite 307
Chicago, IL 60604
1 E. Jackson Blvd. Suite 11001
Chicago IL 60604
Katy Weseman, LGBTQA Student Services
2250 N. Sheffield Ave, Suite 307
Chicago, IL 60604
1 E. Jackson Blvd. Suite 11001
Chicago, IL 60604
Public Safety (24x7 for all emergencies)
University Counseling Services
2250 N. Sheffield Ave, Suite 350
Chicago, IL 60614
25 E Jackson Blvd, Lewis Center, Suite 1465
Chicago, IL 60604
2250 N. Sheffield Ave, Suite 311
Chicago, IL 60614
1 E. Jackson Blvd. Suite 11010
Chicago, IL 60604
Center on Halsted (LGBT & STD Testing Services)
3656 N. Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60613
Porchlight Counseling Services
Multiple Chicagoland Counseling Locations
Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
836 W Wellington Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
Cook County Circuit Court
555 W Harrison St, Chicago
24-Hour Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline: 1-888-293-2080
24-Hour Sarah's Inn Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 708-386-4225
24-Hour City of Chicago Domestic Violence Help Line: 1-877-863-6338
24-Hour Spanish Speaking Domestic Violence Hotline: 312-738-5358
Rape Victim Advocates (Free Counseling and Legal Advocacy)
180 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 600
Chicago IL 60601
YWCA Metropolitan Chicago - Loop (Free Counseling and Legal Advocacy)
1 North LaSalle St, Suite 1150
Chicago, IL 60602
Life Span Center for Legal Services & Advocacy
Chicago, IL 60613
For additional resources, please contact Rima Shah, Sexual Health & Violence Prevention Coordinator (contact details above)
- Get Involved
There are many exciting opportunities for students to become actively engaged in stopping sexual violence and addressing sexual health. Depending on the level of commitment you are willing and able to make, you may pick the activity that works best for you.
- Become Critically Engaged: It may not sound like much, but it is the first and most important step in becoming an ally against sexual violence and in addressing sexual health. This may include becoming aware of the language you use with your peers and understanding sexuality, gender, healthy relationships, and rape (among other topics).
- Join a Student Group: You can join one of the excellent student organizations at DePaul, such as Student Health Advocates (SHA) or Graduate DePaul Advocates for Sexual & Social Health (G-DASSH), both of which address sexual health and sexual violence.
- Volunteer for the Office: The Office of Sexual Health & Violence Prevention would be happy to have volunteers! Volunteers may assist with planning activities and program development.
- Request a Workshop
Student groups, RAs, staff, or faculty may request a 20-60 minute workshop on any of the following topics for their class/group/mentors/residence halls:
- Healthy Relationships
- Safer Sex & You
- Understanding Sexual Assault & Consent
- Understanding Domestic Violence
- Supporting Student Survivors
The workshop will be implemented by HPW using an interactive format that is tailored specifically to your needs. For additional information or to request a workshop please contact Rima Shah at email@example.com.